google drive in nautilus on ubuntu desktop

Want to access your Google Drive files natively on Ubuntu? Sure you do, and you can.

If you read this site regularly (or are fairly up-to-speed in all things Linux) then you’ll know that GNOME 3.18 brought with it the nifty ability to access your Google Drive files on Linux through the Nautilus file manager.

‘Get access all your Google Drive files inside Nautilus, without third-party apps’

In the absence of an official Google Drive client for Linux it’s a super helpful feature.

But it is one that many assumed was out of scope for those running Ubuntu 16.04, which ships with Nautilus 3.14 and not 3.18.

Well, it turns out that this isn’t actually required after all. You can access Google Drive files in Nautilus in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.


You just need to install the GNOME Control Center and the GNOME Online Accounts packages, add your Google Account, and away you go!

Don’t believe me? Why not try it out.

How To Access Google Drive on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

1. First install the GNOME Control Center and GNOME Online Accounts packages on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install gnome-control-center gnome-online-accounts

2. Open the GNOME Control Center from the Unity Dash (or the command line).

gnome control app in unity dash search

3. Click on the ‘Online Accounts’ icon.

gnome control center options

4. Click ‘Add Account’, followed by ‘Google’. Proceed to enter your account details and grant GNOME authorisation to fetch and edit your files.

add an account to gnome online accounts

5. Make sure that the ‘Files’ switch is in the correct position and you’re all set.


Open a new Nautilus window and click your Google account e-mail listed in the sidebar.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 21.14.12

What This Is (And Isn’t)

It’s important to be aware that this does not create a local copy of your Google Drive contents. It can only be used with an active internet connection.

As a gvfs (Gnome Virtual File System) mount this “access” comes with all the usual limitations and caveats (i.e., any files you add or delete in the Google Drive folder in Nautilus are instantly synced on the cloud (and vice versa). You also don’t get any other niceties, like share links, and so on.

Load Remote Thumbnails

By default Nautilus won’t load file previews/thumbnails from remote mounts. You can change this setting through Nautilus > Edit > Preferences > Preview and changing Show Thumbnail from Local to Always Show.


Manage Files

You can open Google Drive files in local apps, edit them, and have those changes saved right back to the cloud — handy for photo and document editing!


To save a file locally for offline use simple drag and drop it from the Google Drive folder to a local folder.

To upload a file to Google Drive simply copy/drag and drop it into a directory in the Google Drive folder.


To unmount your Google Drive just click the small ‘eject’ icon in the Nautilus sidebar, or right-click on the Mount folder item on the Unity Launcher and select ‘unmount’.

unmount google drive in nautilus

How To Google google drive nautilus